East Islip fifth-graders can certainly say they have accomplished their mission.
Jennifer Giordano's class at Timber Point Elementary School recently placed first statewide at the elementary level -- and fifth nationwide -- in the Disney Planet Challenge, a competition in which kids select an environmental issue on which they take local action.
Giordano's 22-student class, which she said named themselves "The Recyclinators," launched dozens of environmental initiatives in the local community and titled their effort "Mission Protect the Earth."
In total, the class joined forces to recycle some 24,900 plastic water bottles, 13,500 plastic bags, and 12,800 alkaline batteries, among other items.
This is the second consecutive year that Giordano's class has won the New York title.
"These kids have come up with brilliant ideas," she said. "When we put their learning into action and connect it to the real world, it excites them."
To enter the challenge, the class collaborated last fall to create a 16-page portfolio detailing their efforts to protect the environment and spread awareness among the community. For winning, they received Disney DVDs, CDs, reusable tote bags and bottles, and $1,000 -- which Giordano used to purchase iPads for classroom use.
In addition to recycling, the students created and sold items ranging from reusable grocery bags to an "eco-calendar" that included tips on recycling. Other initiatives included hosting a "Going Green" workshop at East Islip Public Library.
Susannah Karp, a sixth-grader at Park Avenue Elementary School, recently won an essay contest titled "What America Means to Me," sponsored by Melville-based elder-law firm Genser Dubow Genser & Cona.
In the essay she expressed pride as an American because of the opportunities citizens of the country enjoy.
"When I see the American flag flying high over my head, I can close my eyes and imagine it flying high somewhere far, far away where our brave troops see it too," she wrote.
She received a $50 gift card and read her essay during the firm's Intergenerational Armed Forces Day Celebration.
Mets legend visits
West Hollow Hills Middle School students received a special treat last month when Mets legend Mookie Wilson served as school principal for a day.
Wilson, who is best known for his pivotal role in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series, gave morning announcements over the loudspeaker, visited classrooms and answered questions about the famous game.
He also autographed items auctioned as part of the district's Relay for Life fundraiser.
Intel science winners
Twelve students from Suffolk County took home grand or special awards last month in various categories at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh. The science research competition, coordinated by the Society for Science & the Public, included more than 1,500 students from roughly 70 countries and saw some 400 awards issued in various categories.
Commack: Rebecca Alford, Sukjin Jang, Rajkumar Pammal and Trinity Russell of Commack High School; Dix Hills: Hannah Kenagy and Aneesh Shah of Half Hollow Hills High School East; Bailey Liao, Matt Rudin and Azaria Zornberg of Half Hollow Hills High School West; Kings Park: Shannon Wetzler of Kings Park High School; Ronkonkoma: Ruchi Shah of Sachem High School North; West Islip: Eric Metodiev of West Islip High School.
Awards in writing
Fifteen Long Island students were recently among 274 nationwide to win 2012 Achievement Awards in Writing from the National Council of Teachers of English based on teacher nominations, a sample of their best writing, and an impromptu essay on a themed topic.
Bay Shore: Maggie Berke and Caroline Cervera of Bay Shore High School; Bellmore:Jordan Liebman and Brian Gimeno of John F. Kennedy High School; Genevieve Dakota Balunis and Corryn Chaimowitz of Mepham High School; East Setauket: Rachel Gutman, Bisma Kamal and Melvin Li of Ward Melville High School; Great Neck:Sylvie Rubin-Budick of Great Neck North High School; Samuel Sommer of Great Neck South High School; Locust Valley: Melissa Granados of Friends Academy; Port Washington:Minah Kim of Paul D. Schreiber High School; Smithtown: Danielle Domini of Smithtown High School West; Valley Stream: Andrew Hess of Valley Stream South Jr./Sr. High School.